Save College Cable Access TV at Purdue Fort Wayne

Save College Cable Access TV at Purdue Fort Wayne

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Save College Cable Access started this petition to Ronald Elsenbaumer and Jerry Lewis

Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana friends, and friends of public education, please take note of a decision made at Purdue University Fort Wayne.  Our beloved College Cable Access TV (CATV) has been abruptly and unexpectedly terminated as of last month (June).  For decades, CATV has served a significant role in reaching out to Fort Wayne and the greater community through cultural and educational programming.  Many events on campus, particularly those sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as the College of Visual and Performing Arts, were recorded and broadcast by CATV, ensuring that people who could not be in attendance, or who were not initially aware of these events, would nonetheless benefit from them. My department’s Visiting Writers Series and the Student-Faculty Reading Series is only one example of the long, sustained outreach that CATV has made possible.  CATV has a rich, diverse, and long-lasting legacy that has, with one swipe of the budgetary pen, been eliminated from our campus. 

Please read the letter I’ve written to Chancellor Ron Elsenbaumer and Vice Chancellor Jerry Lewis and consider writing one of your own.  You may reach them at ronald.elsenbaumer@pfw.edu and jerry.lewis@pfw.edu.

Also, please sign the petition below.  Spread the word!  These decisions have profound consequences for the community as well as Purdue Fort Wayne.  Administrators need to know that people in this community are paying attention and that they care. 

Thank you in advance for your support. Please share widely and speak out! 

 

Dear Chancellor Elsenbaumer and Vice Chancellor Lewis:

I recently learned that our College Cable Access station (CATV) and crew have been unexpectedly and abruptly terminated.  Apparently there had been no prior discussion or even advance notice with faculty or the television staff.  As a faculty member in the Department of English and Linguistics since 1995, I find this turn of events deeply troubling on a number of counts. I am writing you directly in hopes that you will reconsider this highly consequential decision.  I am not typically one to write to my administrators, instead working with fellow faculty and following appropriate channels.  But this decision strikes hard at the heart of this university’s mission and its purpose of community and regional outreach.  Thus, I feel compelled to speak out. Let me explain.

CATV is a jewel in the crown of this university because of its sustained, diverse, and culturally informed programming.  It reaches an incalculable number of people who otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn and grow from these shows.  The Omnibus Lecture Series is, of course, an obvious asset to the university, and for those unable to attend, having these broadcasts played and replayed over the years is foundational to our mission to bring cultural wealth to our region.  Furthermore, as a faculty member, I can attest to the many years our department’s Visiting Writers Series has developed a reputation and legacy, in large part because of CATV programming of our events.  We now have a generation of students who seek us out because of the strength of our reputation as a place where they can learn to write from notable professionals.  Since I have been at IPFW, now PFW, our writing programs have grown exponentially, again in large part because of the visibility afforded by CATV.  In addition, the College of Visual and Performing Arts offers broadcasts of high quality performances for those of us who are time challenged and cannot attend concerts in person.  The Communications Department broadcasts student videos, offering a significant experiential learning opportunity, along with working with the CATV crew as interns.  These are only a few examples.

Although I am not originally from Fort Wayne, my family and I have deep roots in this community, having lived here for decades; my brother, Tom Cain, moved here in 1983, while my husband and colleague, George Kalamaras, and I moved here in 1995 (although George began teaching here in 1990), and my mother, Ruth Cain, arrived in 2002.   As a result, I have received a great deal of feedback over the years about the scope and reach that CATV has through family members as well as directly from other community members.  For instance, one of my physicians, Dr. Rao Mantravadi, a major patron of our campus’s cultural partner, Shruti, and I discuss the programming on a regular basis.  My brother, Tom,  has served on the board of the Fort Wayne Art Museum, has been with the Philharmonic chorus for decades, is also active with the West Central Neighborhood Association, and is a member of the Quest Club.  My mother is very involved with St. Elizabeth Anne Seton parish in Aboite Township and her neighborhood groups in the Hamlets.  They regularly report to me the praise they hear from community members about programming they’ve viewed on CATV, most notably from my department, but also the Distinguished Lecturer series, the Anthropology Club lectures, the Outstanding Researcher lectures, the Student-Faculty Reading Series, and so on.  Furthermore, while walking at Foster Park, buying groceries, or having a meal out, I am frequently approached and asked, “Aren’t you the one on TV talking about (fill in the blank)?”

I offer these examples not out of self-aggrandizement but to make the larger point that CATV has a deep, rich, and lasting legacy in this community.  It provides visibility for our campus, but more to the point, it offers educational outreach that is core to our mission, outreach that can’t be accomplished in any other way.  While I understand the importance of using data to make consequential decisions in our very challenging budgetary moment, CATV represents an entity whose value is difficult to capture in raw bottom-line terms.  It takes the perspective of long-time residents to truly appreciate the long-term value and long-lasting legacy that CATV has provided.

If our administration is truly committed to transparency and shared governance, perhaps it is time to consider consulting senior faculty, especially those of us who have given our lives to developing the well-being and enrichment of this community.  A council of senior faculty with demonstrated commitments to community outreach might be a good place to begin discussions when weighing such significant decisions.

For the good of this campus, its identity, and its community-oriented mission, please reconsider your decision and reinstate our beloved CATV.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary Ann Cain

Professor, English and Linguistics

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